The Road to Ithica – a poem toward embarking on a journey

This poem was contributed by Harry Vardis in honour of Sid Parnes’ recent passing. Sid was a pioneer in the field of creativity, a teacher, mentor, researcher, advocate, and a kind and gentle man.  It was he who first taught me that creativity can be used in problem-solving.

Sid Parnes and Marci Segal at ACRE 2 in South Africa, 1995

Ithaca by Constantine Cavafis

As you set out for Ithaca
hope your road is a long one.
Full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclopes and angry Poseidon,
don’t be afraid of them.
You’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as rare excitement stirs your spirit and body
Laistrygonians, Cyclops, wild Poseidon,
you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many sunny mornings
when with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations to buy fine things
mother of pearl, and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfumes of every kind—as many sensual perfumes as you can,
and may you visit many Egyptian cities to learn,
and to go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island.
Wealthy with all you’ve gained
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey
without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor,
Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become,
so full of experiences,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.


0 thoughts on “The Road to Ithica – a poem toward embarking on a journey”

  1. From the book ” RoadTo Ithica ”
    There was a time I seemed to sail across a vast blue sea
    Scanning the horrizon for some distant golden shore
    Imagining that happiness lay just ahead of me
    In some wonderous perfect place I’d never seen before
    But as the days and years passed by I came to comprehend that joy is in the journeying not at the journey’s end
    That joy is in the journeying not at the journey’s end

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